Core Steps for Establishing Board Cybersecurity Training

Lena Eisenstein
5 min read
Most members of school boards are not experts in cybersecurity issues. However, school boards are still responsible for developing the policies and procedures related to cybersecurity and the ever-changing risks that come with technological advancement.

Cybersecurity is associated with risks that can catch even the most experienced board members off guard. School boards must understand that cybersecurity threats should be treated like any other kind of organizational risk. The same amount of detail and preparation associated with mitigating financial risks should be implemented when preparing for and conducting school board cybersecurity training.

To begin to develop and establish cybersecurity training for your school board, there are core steps that need to be explored and addressed.

Why is cybersecurity training for school boards important?

Awareness of the issues associated with cybersecurity is imperative. School board cybersecurity training cultivates a culture that prioritizes cybersecurity throughout the district. Cybersecurity training is about mitigating the risks associated with cybersecurity.

Without the buy-in of school board members, cybersecurity training may not be as comprehensive or as thorough as it should be.

Some boards or board members may not truly appreciate the significance of cybersecurity and how critical cybersecurity training is for the district. One school district in Kentucky was the victim of a multimillion-dollar online scam. By highlighting real-life incidents that have occurred within other districts, the board can express the importance of cybersecurity training.

1. Identifying cybersecurity risks and issues that the board and district may face.

By first identifying the risks associated with cybersecurity, the board can then work on prevention and response. Data breaches, phishing scams, ransomware attacks and even the misuse of district technology resources can put district information and assets at risk.

There are many cybersecurity practices that unassumingly pose a risk to district information. Storage on a public cloud (like Google) is easy, but there is a lack of security associated with public cloud storage. When it comes to sensitive district data, the information should be stored on a secure private server and on sites with high-level protections in place.

Unlike many cloud-based services, BoardDocs, a Diligent brand, boasts physically secure servers (that are video monitored) and 256-bit encryption, the strongest level of encryption currently available. These elements ensure privacy and security for your board's most confidential and sensitive data.

Knowing what cybersecurity issues your district may face allows the board to begin to ask and address questions for prevention and response. Cloud-based software does not have to be completely cut from district use, but knowing how to identify secure platforms is imperative.

2. Who will be involved in the board's cybersecurity training?
Effective and efficient cybersecurity training and risk management may require the school board to engage with district personnel who possess experience and expertise in cybersecurity. Not only are these individuals equipped to respond to these tense situations, but their knowledge can better equip board members and the district in knowing how to identify and respond to cyberattacks.

Staff, school board members and the community need to know what a cybersecurity threat looks like and where a cybersecurity incident, like data loss or a phishing scam, should be reported.

The district's IT manager or team, district technological and leadership teams, and certain law enforcement agencies may need to be included in the notification process. It may be helpful to create a flow chart of the individuals or groups that need to be notified based upon the scam or incident that occurs.

Utilizing these professionals is key as board members work to ensure that their cybersecurity training is all-encompassing. Cybersecurity training does not just disperse knowledge regarding cybersecurity, but knowledge on how to apply the people who can best help mitigate the risks as well.

Be sure that information regarding responses to cyberattacks is available to all district staff and board members. The faster that individuals are able to report these incidents, the more easily the issue can be mitigated.

3. Develop a plan of action regarding cybersecurity.

School boards are critical to developing cybersecurity standards to protect district assets and information. Boards can take several actions to prevent, mitigate and respond to cybersecurity threats through specific policies and procedures.

In cybersecurity training, response to attacks or threats is an important topic of discussion, but prevention methods are just as vital to address. The board can implement district-wide policies that encourage responsible use of school technology and networks.

Board cybersecurity training should not only outline the procedures associated with the prevention of and response to cybersecurity threats, but also any standards regarding technology and cybersecurity. Information regarding cybersecurity best practices can be helpful for individuals who may not be aware of the risks associated with certain facets of technology, such as e-mail or cloud-based storage.

By utilizing the right school board management system, school boards can share policies regarding cybersecurity standards for continuous reference by the public, staff or administrators (or all three!). If your board wishes to host a training on cybersecurity standards, the software should offer the ability to share related information within the platform for board members to see.

Cybersecurity training establishes a plan for what to do in the event of a cybersecurity attack and can equip school boards with the confidence to mitigate the risks in a timely manner. Cybersecurity training can help individuals know how to identify and respond to cybersecurity attacks that may threaten a district's assets and information.

The cybersecurity features and functions of BoardDocs helps support an efficient, effective and successful school board. Ensuring that your board's information is protected and secure means that your board has more time and energy to spend on other important issues.

Board management software helps school boards promote and support strong cybersecurity standards. BoardDocs' security and features support and promote cybersecurity practices that protect the sensitive information of your district and your students. Maintaining secure and encrypted digital records, strong recovery methods and a secure cloud network encourage a culture of strong cybersecurity standards.